Not all oils and fats are created equal.
Heavily processed, hydrogenated, “trans” fats and oils that are used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body.
However, fats and oils from whole foods and other high-quality sources can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair and nails and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly.
Our bodies also need fat for insulation and to protect and hold our organs in place. A healthy percentage of high-quality fat in a meal satisfies and leaves feelings of energy, fulfilment and warmth. When there are excess fats and oils in the diet, especially heavily processed fats, symptoms can include weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, liver strain and an overall feeling of mental, physical and emotional heaviness.
Signs of insufficient high-quality fats are brittle hair and nails, dry skin, hunger after meals and feeling cold. There are many sources of healthy fats and oils, here are my three personal favourites.
Mmmmm, no member of my family can live without these! They are rich in monounsaturated fats, high in vitamin E which fights free-radical damage, they boost the immune system, keep skin nourished, youthful and glowing. They boost your good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the bad type (LDL) They are so easy to add to your menu in smoothies, dips, spreads, dressings and spread over sourdough toast.
Olive oil has high levels of monounsaturated fat which is great protection against heart attacks and may protect against strokes as well, It has important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Oleic acid present in olive oil may protect us against certain cancers as well. Always look for extra virgin, cold-pressed, and unrefined varieties. Drizzle over this Super Cleanse Salad, use it to roast your vegetables or make this exotic Middle Eastern Spiced Chickpea Rice.
Coconut is high in saturated fats, rich in medium-chain fatty acids. The benefits are endless. It increases your healthy cholesterol (HDL), and also helps to convert bad cholesterols (LDL), into good cholesterol and therefore great for heart health. These fatty acids also improve brain and memory function.
The extra virgin varieties are preferable, as the more refined, the more the health benefits are eliminated. My family finds the taste of extra virgin taste too strong, so I opt for virgin coconut oil to suit their palette.
It’s great to pop into your tea to ward off sugar cravings, delicious in healthy treats and great to cook with. I mix my pure essential oils with olive oil or coconut oil and use it on my skin as a moisturiser as well!
Other Delicious Fats
There are many sources of healthy fats and oils. Here are some of my other favourites:
- For sautéing and baking, try butter or ghee (clarified butter).
- Use oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut and pumpkin seed. These are best used unheated in sauces or dressings on top of salads, veggies or grains.
- Macadamia oil has a delicious nutty, buttery flavour which is great for pan frying fish, baking cakes and slices, and in salad dressings.
- Other healthy fats are found in whole nuts and seeds and in their butters like almond butter or tahini.
- Other whole foods containing good fats are olives and coconuts, along with wild salmon, sardines and pastured or organic eggs.
Experiment with these healthy fat sources and see which work best for you and leave you satisfied.
When selecting oils, buy the highest-quality organic products you can afford, since cooking oils are the backbone of so many dishes. Good words to look for on the label are organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin and unrefined. Words to avoid are expeller-pressed, refined and solvent extracted.
What are your favourite fats?
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